Think of your favorite recipe…is it simple or complex? Was it passed down from family or from a cookbook? How many friends or family members have you shared it with? What are the key ingredients that bring the recipe to life?
When you create web content, you are like the chef at your own restaurant. You are providing your audience with content that they can consume, in a way that is pleasing to them and will encourage them to tell all their friends. Ultimately, the goal of your content marketing strategy should be to create a linkable asset that attracts backlinks from across the web because it somehow meets (and exceeds) your audience expectations, is high quality, and is extremely useful.
When your content is linked to, your “dish” is being served to consumers that may not already be dining at your restaurant, yet they are lead to it by “favorable reviews” in the form of trusted links pointing them back to your website.
As content marketers, we must understand the elements of high-quality content in order to best serve our audience. Is there a recipe for creating the type of content your audience or peers are ready and willing to link to? We argue that there is, and in this article, we’ll dive into the elements that make content linkable.Is there a recipe for creating content that attracts #links? @VerticalMeasure says there is! Click To Tweet
But first, let’s dive into a survey that will inform our recommendations.
Survey: What Makes Content Linkable?
To recognize the motives behind why people link to content, our team here at Vertical Measures conducted a survey to study content linking trends in over fifteen industries. We analyzed four major topics related to web content:
- What types of content are most commonly linked to
- Why that content is linked to
- Why some content doesn’t get linked to
- Where linkable content exists on websites
Content Formats Most Linked to: Articles
We first looked at what type of content is the most commonly linked to in order to recognize trends.
We analyzed 18 types of content that are most often linked to. Our survey found that over 87% of respondents link to articles. Research and infographics/visual content followed close behind. Here are the full results:
We used our best discretion to bucket these content formats, but consider that there may be some overlap since research or case studies can often take the form of an article.
Following articles, visual content such as infographics came in as the second most common content type that is linked to. Data visualizations or infographics are created from research and are designed to allow easy consumption of what is often complex information. They are highly engaging, shareable, and interesting.
Our survey also shows that video content is a great linkable asset, as it engages an audience visually and shares large amounts of information quickly. Video linkable assets can be a tutorial, recorded webinar, product review, how-to, demonstration, or explanation.
Why is content linked to?
It’s important to understand why content is linked to. External linking is very common, and more often than not you’re likely to find at least one external link on a web page. We asked our respondents to choose the top 3 reasons why they include external sources on their website. The complete reasoning results are detailed in the image below.
Approximately 69% of respondents reported that they link out to an external source for citing or referencing information found online. Doing so shows that the content producer is responsible with source material and gives credit where it’s due. Trust is a huge factor here.
67% of respondents revealed that they link to an external source to provide site readers with an additional information. Adding an external source to content provides value to an audience by presenting relevant, supplementary information that someone could follow up with if they are interested in the topic at hand.
The third most common reason why people link to external content is that the information came from a trusted and high authoritative resource. High-quality content is increasingly important in the search landscape of today. Influencer authority is just as important too, with credibility being given to those with a consistent, trusted brand presence.
Over half of survey respondents also reasoned that they link to content because it can be relevant to the content on their site. Linking to relevant content can help expand a topic while also providing an audience with further information.
Keep these reasons in mind next time you’re deciding whether to include a link on your own site or when asking people to share your content on their site.
Why doesn’t some content perform for links?
Our survey also revealed reasons why some content doesn’t get linked to. Think of poorly linked content as a bad batch of cookies that no one wants to eat or bring to a party to share with guests.
Content creators like to link to content that is high quality from an authoritative source. The same holds true when we asked respondents the most common reasons why they don’t link out to external content. 40% of respondents reported that they do not link out to a source when content lives on an external website that appears to be low-authority and has visible spam on the web page.
The survey results also showed that sometimes people do not link out to a website because they do not want readers to leave their website. However, it’s important to note that there are many reasons why people leave websites and you should not be afraid to give your readers additional information from another source. Just make sure to have external links open in a new tab; this will not disrupt the content experience on your own site.
Where do linkable assets exist?
Think of where you share content on your website as the serving table, where you would present your delicious and consumable content.
We asked respondents where they most often place external sources on their websites. The most popular answer was not shocking, as 78% respondents disclosed that they often link to external content in blog articles. This may be because the content can help support the article and provide readers with additional information on the subject.
Resource pages also proved to be a great location to find linked content on a website. Our survey revealed that over 45% of respondents prefer to link out to content on a dedicated resource page.
If you are associated with a partnership or affiliation, it may be helpful to reach out to those organizations, as they are likely to link to your content since there is a relationship already built. 33% of respondents reported that they link to content that is created by a sponsor or partner.
Want to learn more about where links live? Check out the detailed survey results below:
How to Create Craveable Content
We took a deeper dive into our survey results to study the characteristics of commonly linked content to uncover why content attracts links in the first place. We found that “high-quality content” is most often linked to. High-quality content is characterized as being highly shareable, having a clearly defined focus on who the content’s target audience is. These pieces of content are value-driven, well researched, and visually appealing.
So what do all these results mean and how can you use them to your advantage in your content development process? We took a trip to our content kitchen to create three simple and tasty recipes for high-quality content based on our findings. You’ll find the ingredients necessary to make your content successful and delicious on each recipe card. We’ve also included helpful tips for you to use while in the kitchen!
Review our recipe cards below to perfect your linkable assets!
A Recipe for Linkable Articles:
3 Cups Educational & Informational Resources
4 Tablespoons Research-Based Supplements
1 Pinch Good Grammar, this will lead to a better taste
For a tastier article:
Avoid branded promotions within your article, which can come off as an advertising pitch and will not provide much information to those who are not already loyal to your brand. We recommended using targeted personas to help create content that interests your audience and addresses their pain points. Doing so will help distinguish your content from other articles in your niche.
Don’t overcook your article:
Watch the length of your article, an overly-lengthy article can quickly become overcooked. The best practice is to match the length of your article to the message that you’re conveying to your audience. Communicate for a message, not for word count. When preparing your article, keep the goal of the article in mind, and doing so will help you determine the necessary length.
On the same note, be careful not to undercook the article. We gathered from our survey that shorter articles are less flavorful, meaning articles that are too “fluffy” are less likely to earn links.
Don’t forget the icing:
Decorate the article with images to help support the content. Relevant graphics, photos, or visualizations may help to further illustrate your article’s intent. Supporting images also help give your content personality and let your brand’s voice shine through.
A Recipe for Linkable Content Infographics:
3 Ounces Visual Effects
½ Cup Contrasting Colors
2 Ounces of Typography
3 Tablespoons of Sources
2 Heaping Cups of Statistics
For a more flavorful infographic:
Create an embed code to allow your readers to share your infographic. This will also allow you to develop natural backlinks to your web page. You can also make the infographic shareable with social plugins or calls-to-action on your website.
Don’t let your infographic go stale:
Once your infographic is out of the oven, be sure to share it! Early momentum can go a long way. Start by sharing the infographic on your social channels and infographic sharing sites like Pinterest and visual.ly. Heat up the promotion by targeting industry influencers to share your newly created link asset with their audiences. Promotion can also help preserve your content’s freshness on the internet.
A Recipe for Linkable Videos:
4 Parts Visual and Audio Effects
8 Ounces Brand Strategy
3 Dashes of Humor
1 Story to Tell
Before your audience digs in:
Set up your video content to track metrics. This data will allow you to effectively measure how long your audience consumes your video. Understanding this data will help you gauge if your content and call-to-action was clear and engaging.
Set up your video to be viewed on more than one platform. Share your video on YouTube and Facebook and then embed it on your website with a transcription, if fitting. If you limit your video to a single platform, your target audience may not find your video.
Name your recipe carefully:
Be concise with the video description used when uploading it to your site, YouTube, or any social media site. The description will be read by search engines, so give your video a unique title and precise keywords. Include your call-to-action in the description for those who may not watch your video and add a link back to your website for more information.
Keep these recipe cards handy when creating your next linkable asset to help determine what ingredients are truly needed. If the recipes are followed correctly, your content will be so delicious that your audience will come back for seconds and link to it!
Want to Create Visual Content that Attracts Links?
Work with our creative content team to design stand-out infographics, videos, whitepapers, and content visualization pages that attract traffics, links, and leads.